Thursday, October 16, 2008
Meggie remarked recently how time seems to speed up as we get older. I think it starts to race as soon as you have children! One minute they're babes in arms, and you're wondering who deemed you reliable enough to be entrusted with their safekeeping?? The next, they're off to school; then they're all gangly arms and endless legs, and you find yourself craning your neck to look up at them---you who used to think you were tall! Next thing you know, you're holding back tears at graduations and weddings.... Tears of joy? Tears of sorrow?
This was what it was all about, you remind yourself. The object of the exercise was to make yourself redundant, to equip them to carry on without you, into the future, that land to which you cannot go. Lucky if you can accompany them a few miles along the road. So, why so mopey? Don't like not being needed so much? Don't like what you see in the mirror? Who is that old crone anyway? And why is she looking back at you so impertinently, with no apologies for the ravages of the years? As much as I like the sun, I could delude myself much more successfully if I could live the rest of my life by candlelight!
They move away from you and become independent, which is how it should be. Still, though you know it means the universe is unfolding just the way it was intended to, it makes you sad, along with the glad.
But then they have children of their own, and those sweet babies lead your children right back to you. The circle of life.
I'm home from my travels, pinching myself, and wondering, was I really there for two whole weeks?
Daughter Dear drove me to the airport, between Kindergarten pick-up time and afternoon soccer practice. She joked about making me walk there, not wanting to aid and abet my leaving...... But, "life goes not backward 'nor tarries with yesterday....." and I'm sure the waters closed seamlessly over the space I occupied there for a while. Next time I see those little
ball players ["I'm open Ginny!"],
counters ["I can count to a hundwed!"],
"spellers ["I know what begins with football---"F"!]
they'll be a couple inches taller, and I'll be another bit older.
There's something bittersweet about seeing our children as parents. To see in them that fierce love and protectiveness we all felt for our babies. Each life has its portion of happiness and sorrow. And time continues its inexorable march, with or without us. I sometimes wonder what God was thinking, to let my Dad die at the age of fifty seven, when my firstborn was merely a toddler. He would have been a great Grandpa.......
It seems such a waste somehow, for us not to live down the road from our children and their children, or in the next village, or at least the next county, or failing that, in a state adjacent to theirs.....So we could have Sunday dinner together, and see them for Christmas, and birthdays, and all the little occasions that families should share, without it becoming a nightmare of planning and co-ordination, and intergalactic travel!
I have the time now.
I could babysit.
I could read stories.
And bake cookies.
And throw footballs!
Regularly, instead of squeezing it all into a few weeks....
But then I pause, and am glad that our grandchildren are fortunate enough to have parents who love and care for them, watch out for their physical safety, and mental and spiritual well being. It is not so for all children, as I was heart-breakingly reminded when I visited Suburbia for the first time today. Life could be, and is for some, really harsh. And even though time flies, so can I.
I think I'll go curl up somewhere quiet now and count my blessings.